You simply cannot beat an afternoon on the sofa watching the darts as the post Christmas lull sets in, and luckily for punters this weekend – which sees the first of the second round ties commence – looks set to be a cracker.
Here are our top tips for the festive action…
Jamie Caven (4/6) v Ricky Evans (6/5)
The bookmakers are struggling to split these two players in the first of the second round matches, however wizened punters will know exactly where their money is going here.
Jamie Caven is a fantastic professional, with the potential to score as heavily as anyone on the circuit. His 96.55 average in the 3-0 first round win over Ricky Szabo was a marker and showed that the number 23 seed will not wilt against under-performing opponents.
Ricky Evans looked dead and buried at 0-2 down against Simon Whitlock, a player who has endured a horror year on the tour. Evans himself has admitted that the ‘crowd won me that game, they were that brilliant’ in an interview with the BBC, yet he won’t have that luxury against fellow Brit Caven. So take the slight favourite at 4/6 to triumph.
Dave Chisnall (1/6) v Christian Kist (4/1)
It’s always a worry for the players; overcoming a potential banana skin opponent in the first round. And that’s exactly what Rowby-John Rodriguez presented to Dave Chisnall, but the number 13 seed responded admirably with a near ton average and a 3-0 whitewash.
Christian Kist deserves credit for the professional way in which he dispatched an out-of-sorts Justin Pipe in straight sets, but Pipe’s average of just 75.55 is rather self-explanatory. Back Chizzy to come out on top in this one.
Gary Anderson (1/7) v Daryl Gurney (9/2)
This is an intriguing contest. The reigning world champion Gary Anderson will be highly fancied to see off Daryl Gurney here, but darting disciples will remind you that Gurney beat Anderson in the Players Championship Finals as recently as November.
The Flying Scotsman is throwing well enough to get the job done, but backing the Over 5.5 Sets market in this best-of-seven clash looks smart value at 6/4.
Sunday December 27
Vincent Van Der Voort (4/5) v Kyle Anderson (Evens)
This is the epitome of a ‘pick ‘em’ match up as the odds testify, but you would probably – just – side with Van Der Voort. He is a two-time World Championship quarter finalist and is throwing some good stuff at the moment.
But Kyle Anderson is a handful and not a player to be underestimated. He has a nine darter on the Ally Pally stage, and so assuming the match goes six sets or more the bet we really like is the Over 12.5 maximums at 5/6. These are two power scorers after all.
Michael Smith (1/6) v Steve Beaton (4/1)
The number eight seed playing the number twenty-five seed should be a betting no-brainer, but the tale here is slightly different to the one that the bookies are painting.
Micheal Smith squeaked past Jeffrey de Zwaan in the first round on a final leg shootout, while Steve Beaton recorded the fourth highest average of all the players in his rudimentary 3-0 win over Koha Kokiri.
There is a feeling that Smith is a bit too emotional sometimes on stage, and this can prevent him from playing at the top of his game. Beaton, who has been around the block, will know this. The Over 5.5 Sets, at 5/4, looks a good price.
Raymond Van Barneveld (8/15) v Stephen Bunting (6/4)
This is a repeat of last year’s quarter final in which Van Barneveld triumphed, and while most punters will presume that this fixture will go the same way the Dutchman’s price of 8/15 looks prohibitive.
Barney is expecting the birth of his first grandson any day now, and that may well hinder his preparation for this match. Despite having a terrible year on the circuit, Bunting threw well in his 3-0 whitewash of Jyhan Artut in round one and will fancy the job here. That Over 5.5 Sets market looks the business again here at 4/6.
James Wade (1/12) v Wes Newton (8/1)
It would be an upset of epic proportion if Newton were able to dislodge Wade here. The 8/1 outsider somehow got past Cristo Reyes in the first round with an average of just 77.80; that’s pub darts, and no match for The Machine.
It’s a shame as Newton is a nice bloke and a genuinely good player on his day, but there is a feeling that Wade is throwing some of the best darts of his life at the moment. The seventh seed is unbackable at 1/12 of course, but the 4-0 scoreline at 6/5 looks great value.
Michael Van Gerwen (1/16) v Darren Webster (10/1)
The world number one was given the fright of his life by qualifier Rene Eidams in the first round, and the Dutchman needed a sudden death led to see off his German opponent.
The assumption is that Van Gerwen played badly, but no: his three dart average of 99.03 was the second best of the first round.
Darren Webster is a little scrapper – as he showed in his 3-1 win over John Henderson – but with an average 11 points lower than MVG’s there can only be one winner here. The Van Gerwen 4-0 win at Evens is more than tempting.